Cosmopolis (R)

Drama 105 August 24, 2012
By Karina Longworth
Robert Pattinson's casting in Cosmopolis as Eric Packer, a 28-year-old finance prodigy ensconced in a stretch limo on a 24-hour odyssey across Manhattan to get a haircut, gives director David Cronenberg an automatic meta-text to play with. Updating Don DeLillo's post-9/11 New York story into an ambiguous, dry black comedy, Cronenberg subverts a postmillennial mass media moment that considers this guy the male ideal. Pattinson, dead-eyed and always on the verge of a smirk, plays Packer as the embodiment of post-Empire cool, a citizen of the world philosophically opposed to notions of national borders or cultural hierarchies. Cosmopolis is the first film based on a DeLillo novel. The original text was released to mixed reviews in 2003, but today, it reads as a prescient encapsulation of the current moment’s economic tumult, with public space defined by reckless power brokers and performance-art-like protest. Postmodernist cred notwithstanding, DeLillo held to the traditional novelistic tactic of introducing a character by telling the reader what was happening in his head. Translating a written text into a visual medium, Cronenberg declines to define a difference between internal and external. What is real? Who cares? The noise in Packer's head is all there is. Cronenberg’s Cosmopolis unfolds as an unbroken stream of the character's consciousness, so narrowly wedded to the way this loathsome master of the universe sees the world that we can't actually see him. Call it a long night of the soulless.
David Cronenberg Robert Pattinson, Juliette Binoche, Sarah Gadon, Mathieu Amalric, Jay Baruchel, Kevil Durand, Samantha Morton, Emily Hampshire, Patricia McKenzie, Paul Giamatti Don DeLillo, David Cronenberg Paulo Branco, Martin Katz Entertainment One

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